From H. LeRoy Whiteley, Jr., Founder of Marylanders for Fair Property Taxation:
Hello Fellow Beleaguered Property Taxpayers
We are rapidly approaching the 2013 General Assembly session and therefore have begun gearing up for a new run at effecting property assessment and appeals reform. Over the summer we assembled a 45 page report entitled ” The Case for Maryland’s Property Tax Assessment and Appeals Process Reform”. Recently, we began a limited distribution of copies to the Harford County Delegation, the Harford County Executive and the County Council. These folks have supported our efforts for years. We have asked the Delegation to again introduce legislation such as the Task Force bill to study the system and develop a fair and equitable assessment system. We have also distributed copies to some of our media friends who also have been supportive to us. In addition, we have distributed copies to other individuals who have supported us and testified with us in Annapolis. We plan to continue distribution of these copies as finances allow. We have also asked the Harford Delegation to collectively support us by reproducing the report and distributing copies to every member of the General Assembly. Our financial resources are limited but we will somehow get this report into the hands of all General Assembly members as well as the heads of all 24 Maryland jurisdictions.
If you are interest in a copy of our efforts we will be glad to forward one to you for $7.00 which is our cost of printing and postage. A copy of our transmittal to the delegation which contains a bulleted summary is attached.
We look forward to working with all who are interested in making this a successful year for Maryland property taxpayers.
Marylanders for Fair Property Taxation
516 Walters Mill Road Forest Hill, Maryland 21050-1428 (410) 879-7993
E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org www.marylandersforfairpropertytaxation.com
November 1, 2012
Harford County Delegation
326 House office Building
6 Bladen Street
Annapolis, Maryland 21401
RE: Property Tax Assessment and Appeals Reform
Dear Senators Glassman, Jacobs, and Jennings and Delegates Dulany-James, Glass, Impallaria, McComas, McDonough, Norman, Stifler, Szelgia
For nearly ten years you have been the leading supporters of our efforts to affect change to Maryland’s property tax assessment and appeals system reform. You have, individually and collectively, continually supported these efforts by introducing specific bills and putting the weight of your experience and your offices behind legislation offered by others. On behalf of Maryland’s property taxpayers and particularly those who work with us, WE ONCE AGAIN THANK YOU.
We are rapidly approaching the 2013 General Assembly session for which we call upon you once more to show the General Assembly that our property tax assessment and appeals system is seriously flawed. It is broken. It is in shambles and suffers from mismanagement, lack of leadership and control which results in millions of dollars in lost assessable base and attendant revenues. THE SYSTEM NEEDS TO BE COMPLETELY REFORMED??
To justify our position we have put together the attached short report documenting these items:
– Assessment system is archaic, biased, convoluted, corrupt, inaccurate, incomprehensible, inequitable, non-uniform, subjective, unfair, and not in concert with current fair market values.
– Present construction cost based assessment system in place basically since 1977 inception.
– Assessment system updated without public input or methodology change.
– Assessor staff down from 280 to 158.
– Assessor staff unable to make physical inspections, or update market value data base and indices.
– Assessor staff competency questionable with no mandatory continuing education required.
– Assessor staff education and skills less than Licensed Real Estate Appraisers taxpayers often forced to hire to challenge inaccurate and unfair assessments.
– Large percentage of assessments incorrect due to lack of up-to-date record keeping.
– Millions of potential assessable tax base dollars lost and unaccounted for.
– Triennial assessments assure at least 2/3 of 2 million taxpayers’ assessments at least 2 years out of date.
– Property assessment worksheets unavailable to taxpayers on line BUT SDAT website promotes private firm, SpecPrint, who purchased said worksheet records and profits by resale negating privacy concerns touted by SDAT Director.
– Assessment system based on construction cost BUT can only be taxpayer challenged based on fair market value sales.
– Assessor hearings waste of time, primarily fishing expedition with little accomplished.
– Property Tax Assessment Appeals Board (PTAAB) and assessment offices housed and staffed together eliminating any separation of function or separation from possible collusion.
– PTAAB staffed with politically connected citizens with questionable property value knowledge.
– PTAAB staff qualifications unknown to taxpayers.
– Tax Court inconvenient, time consuming, unfair to taxpayer who must prove State wrong rather than each side proving their case.
We know the report is lengthy and you are quite busy but we ask that you take the time to read it carefully. When you find it factual and truly representative of a system gone amuck in need of serous reform as we are sure you will, we ask that you do two things for Maryland’s property taxpayers.
1. Fully support our reform efforts by again introducing legislation to accomplish the mission items spelled out in the report.
2. Since our group is without financial backing, help us spread the word contained within the report by reproducing copies of the report for and distributing copies to every one of your fellow General Assembly colleagues urging them to support legislation you will introduce to accomplish the reform mission.
We again thank you for your past efforts and look forward to working with you in the coming year to accomplish this major task. Please let us know when we can meet to begin work for the 2013 session.
H. LeRoy Whiteley, Jr., Founder